JUST over a century ago, there was a brief effort to try and change some Salt Lake area geographical names, "to add mystic charm" and avoid the commonplace.
The Salt Lake Herald newspaper of July 25, 1912 stated that Joseph E. Caine suggested a change in some titles for the area during a speech given at Liberty Park.
City Creek and Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons were particularly mentioned as being too commonplace of names for an area so rich in pioneer history and effort.
"With such a world of romance in our history we should not have given to that magnificent gorge of the Wasatch so commonplace a name as Big Cottonwood Canyon. City Creek, Big and Little Cottonwood and Mill Creek Canyons, Twin Peaks and Lone Peak are all misnamed," the story reported.
"There are a thousand cottonwood canyons in the western United States and as many mill creek canyons.Let us give to these and other great works of nature names that will mean something in the history of our state and that will carry with them the romantic charm of the days of the trail blazers."
Caine also suggested that Timpanogos be returned as the name for Utah Lake, as the Spanish explorers and Father Escalante had titled it.
He said more unusual name changers could "add to this state a mystic charm that will live forever in poetry, in painting and in song."
Sadly, Caine's suggestions were not heeded, or perhaps the commonplace names he wanted changed were already too permanent in the minds of Utahns.
And, certainly in the 21st Century, such names have well over a century of use.
Perhaps the "lone" example of a name Caine suggested that actually had an effort to alter it, was Lone Peak. For at least a few years in the mid 1910s, there was a temporary renaming to "Mount Jordan" instead. (Lone Peak is a distinctive, solitary peak at the far south end of the S.L. Valley.) The new name didn't stick, but it was used in many a newspaper story of that decade, including the S.L. Herald of Sept. 6, 1915.
Caine also neglected to mention that there are three sets of "Twin Peaks," found just along the length of the Wasatch Mountains in Salt Lake County. Why that name repetition? Who knows, but "Double Peak" and North and South Twin could at least have been a little less confusing set of titles.
-Regarding Lone Peak, it was thrown back into public notice at the end of 1936 when a plan crashed on that mountain and yet could not be found for almost six months.
On Dec. 13, 1936, a Western Air Express transport plane crashed some 43 minutes before it was due at the Salt Lake Airport.
In early June of 1937, some hikers found some airmail blown around near the top of the mountain and that led to finally locating the plane wreckage and the remains of its four passengers and three crew members, finally ending the tragic suspense of the disaster.
An elevation of 11,000 feet above sea level, an arctic-like weather made location and recovery vert difficult.
It was believed, according to the Salt Lake Telegram newspaper of June 7, 1937, that it the aircraft had just been another 20 to 25 feet higher, it would have cleared the granite mountaintop safely.
-Lone Peak was back in the news about 18 months later when four Salt Lake men climbed Lone Peak's summit in a record three hours and 58 minutes.
Orson Spencer, Odell Pedersen, W.C. Kamp and Keith Anderson made the speedy climb from the Alpine side, They are members of the Wasatch Mountain Club and their exploit was reported in the Telegram of Oct. 3, 1938.
(-Other sources: “Utah Place Names,”: by John W. Van Cott and the Salt Lake Tribune, May 28, 1916.)
-Originally published in the Deseret News on Dec. 26, 2017.